- Gregory Maguire, 1995
- Number One – The Wicked Years
This lovely book. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. It is the first book in the series The Wicked Years, and the only book in the series that I’ve read.
Gregory Maquire used Oz and its characters as a framework in which he has crafted people, animals, relationships, and events that are as far away from L. Frank Baum’s Oz cycle as anyone could imagine. There is no room in Maguire’s Oz for cliche.
Elphaba’s (non-green) parents fit no mold, and their green-tinted, needle-toothed firstborn is just as unconventional. She is a prickly baby, cool child, disinterested young adult, strong woman, passionate advocate of the underdog, and indifferent mother. She is paradox, and finally she is the Witch – but not strictly a Bad Witch.
Galinda /Glinda, Elphie’s conventionally beautiful school roommate, is shallow, thoughtful, self-serving, vain, sometimes remorseful – and not strictly a Good Witch.
Not everyone loves this book; my sister, whose tastes frequently align with mine, was put off by the political themes that run through a good part of the story – but we’re talking Oz politics, so I was ok with it. I hope you will be surprised and delighted by Maguire’s fresh characterizations and original motivations. This is no Hollywood Oz.